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Old 09-28-2005, 07:14 PM   #1
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Location: Conesus, NY
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How long until I see nitrite? (a bit long)

First off: Love the site and all of the advice I've found here. This is perhaps the best aquarist's resource I've found online to date.

Let me share my situation with you:
I'm a teacher, and at the end of last school year, I "inherited" two FW tanks from a fellow teacher who retired: a 55 gal and a 90 gal. The 55 contained (and still does), 4 angels, 4 silver dollars and about 10 tetras with a cory cat. Up until two weeks ago, the 90 contained two minnows (fatheads, I think) and a sunfish. Naturally, I wanted to do much more with the 90, so I brought its inhabitants home to my pond, and drained the water.

Here are my plans for the tank:
1) Remove gravel substrate and replace with sand.
2) Fill the tank with rocks, grapevines (to simulate underwater roots), and some plastic plants.
3) New tenants to include: 5-6 clown loaches, four bala sharks, a couple of kuhli loaches, schools of danios, barbs, and rasboras of various sorts, and a few gouramis. (not strictly a biotope aquarium, but all fish from SE Asia/India)

I am not new to the hobby, but have been out of it for about 10 years for various reasons. I have re-aquascaped the tank, filled it, and have begun fishless cycling, as I would like to get the tank fully established and add all of the fish at once.

A week before I drained the 90 gal, I added another Aquaclear 500 to the established 55 gal community tank with just a sponge, so I could use that for seeding the 90.

I filled the tank on Monday, transferred the sponge to one of the AC500's on the 90 and added pure ammonia Monday and yesterday (10 drops/10gal).

As of today, here are my readings:
Ammonia: between 1.0 and 2.0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrates: 10 ppm

I figure the nitrates are from a bit of the sludge that remained in the bottom of the tank before refilling it. Ideally, I would have completely cleaned and emptied it, but it's too big to move around and I am a bit impatient (not a good thing in this hobby, I realize!).

Are the colonies in that sponge not well enough established to tackle the ammonia? I would have thought for sure I'd see even a bit of nitrite.

The ammonia is a pure aqueous solution (from a science teacher ), so I don't think I poisoned the little buggers with any cleanser. I didn't add any more ammonia today, since it didn't look as if any was being consumed.

I said I was impatient, but I clearly will not add any fish at all until the tank has cycled. This is my first foray into fishless cycling, but reading about cycling times of 7-12 days has me thinking that I should be seeing some nitrite.

Any thoughts?


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Old 09-28-2005, 08:25 PM   #2
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That won't take very long (probably a couple days) The nitrite stage will last forever. Continue to add the ammonia (the same amount, each day) Sounds like you've got it figured out.


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Old 09-29-2005, 04:57 PM   #3
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Welcome to Aquarium Advice! We love science teachers

Did you happen to measure ammonia after you added the drops of ammonia the first time?

It is hard to say whether or not a week on the 55gal would seed the sponges enough to jump start the 90, as usually I'd leave it on there for at least two weeks to properly colonize (then it is colonized only for the bioload present in the 55, or even less considering the bioload is also being handled by the second filter on the 55), but it is possible you are right where you want to be, and will be seeing nitrite soon. A 7-12 day fishless cycle is NOT the norm by any means (I had one take 6 weeks once) so I'd be patient and put your test kits away for a week or two. I'd just continue to add the ammonia every day, without fail, and after a week test it again. If you are showing nitrite don't bother testing nitrate, since nitrite will alter your results. You may drive yourself crazy testing every day, hoping today is the day, so give it some time and you'll get a surprise one day.

I like your stocking plan, except I'd limit it to one bala shark, as they can get up to a foot long.
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Old 09-29-2005, 05:42 PM   #4
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If you add all the fishes at once, as you have mentioned, you will probably cycle your tank again. The bacteria will have to grow again for all the fish waste at once.

Put in a few at a time and keep an eye on what the water parameters do.

I've heard that Kuhli loaches might do better if in a small group of 4 or 5, they won't be as shy then.
Previously: 2x 10gal tank, 45gal aquascaped, 70gal aquascaped
Currently: 16gal FW, 40W CF, ADA Aquasoil Amazonia II/Tahitan Moon Sand, PH 6.5, kH2, gH 4
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